Senate Set to Begin Debate This Week
Washington, DC - The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee unveiled an updated version of the Every Child Achieves Act, a bill to fix No Child Left Behind, with several new measures authored by Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. The previous version of the bill was approved 22-0 by the HELP Committee.
The bill reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the chief federal law addressing K-12 education. It reforms many of the policies from No Child Left Behind, while maintaining several key policies that have proved successful.
"Fixing No Child Left Behind is long overdue. This bill is a good start that addresses many of Colorado's priorities," Bennet said. "We need to ensure that the final product ensures high expectations, re-empowers those closest to our kids, and promotes innovation and advancement. We also need to carefully consider appropriate accountability measures to ensure all kids have access to a great education. We're looking forward to continuing the bipartisan work to build on our successes while turning us away from the failed practices of the past."
The updated version of the bill is expected to be offered as a substitute amendment by HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) when the Senate takes up the bill this week. Bennet secured several additional provisions in this version, including:
- A provision co-authored by Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), inspired by Bennet's amendment in committee to create an Office of Rural Education Policy, requiring the Department of Education to study its organizational structure and processes and procedures for developing policies and regulations and to take steps to increase consideration and participation of rural schools;
- A measure also co-authored by Senator Cochran to add rural schools to the Secretary's report card to ensure that information on student achievement in rural communities across the country is made available;
- A provision to promote strategies in Title I schools to provide greater access to coursework that allows students to earn postsecondary credit while still in high school, such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses and dual or concurrent enrollment in college-level courses;
- A study of the American Community Survey's data on English-learning students to ensure vital funding for English-learning programs is reaching the students who need it;
- A provision to allow schools to use funding from two grant programs to develop or improve models to measure and assess student growth on state assessments.
Bennet also secured several key Colorado priorities in the base bill and successfully added several amendments during the committee's consideration of the bill. As the Senate debates the bill, Bennet will continue to push for changes to improve equity and address inequalities, promote state-driven accountability systems, and encourage innovation to meet the challenges schools face today.
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